Saturday, 23 November 2013


It's the word that all of us dread.  I've been so fortunate in my life that none of my horses have ever been colicky before.  I guess we were just lucky but it was a threat we knew was out there but had never had to deal with before.

That abruptly changed on Wednesday.  I was just getting off work (I worked a morning shift so I got off pretty early, thankfully) when I got a message from my mom to call her.  I knew immediately something was wrong with one of the horses.  Why else wouldn't my mom say what it was about in the message?  I immediately called her and she said the worst words she could, "There's something wrong with Socks."

So after I somehow managed to not burst into tears in front of everyone I worked with (minus a girl from another store who was in the back room when I called my mom) I went over to my sister's store and promptly burst into tears in front of all her employees and customers.  Go me.  I didn't even care. 

My mom met me there and we drove straight out to the stable.  We didn't have a lot of information.  Our stable owners are on a short vacation so the instructor at the barn was doing chores.  She already does chores some days of the week so she's a good choice because she's familiar with all the horses.  Anyway, when she fed Socks, Socks didn't even come out of her shelter.  That's a huge red flag.  Socks will tear the barn apart to get to her food.

The instructor brought Socks inside the barn to keep an eye on her.  She said Socks lied down a few times but she never rolled or thrashed.  She never kicked at her stomach but she would turn her head and look at her flanks. 

When we got there I was greeted with a big, loud nicker from Socks.  She was up and made her motorcycle noise for a good two minutes as the instructor poured the stall horse's nightly grain into their buckets.

While my mom and the instructor spoke, I took Socks out and brought her into the arena to walk.  She was more than willing to go.  She did want to lie down.  She'd walk a step away from me and lower her head to the ground.  That's her sign for let me roll.  I'd give a little tug on the lead rope and she'd stop.  She never once tried to go down. 

Long story short, she did actually begin to improve almost immediately with walking.  We were there for six hours in totally (six, long hours in a freezing barn, I still haven't warmed up). 

By the end of it she was 100% normal again.  All she wanted to do was eat, which she did not get to do much to her disappointment.  She was fine the next day and has been good ever since then.

We've all come to the conclusion that it was just a mild colic, but it was scary nonetheless.  I'd rather not have to deal with that again.  At least the instructor has dealt with colic before, and we had a vet on standby. 

I went ten years without dealing with colic, hopefully I can go at least another ten without dealing with it again.

Saturday, 2 November 2013


I am alive!  I've been a horrible blogger, but I am alive.  My computer broke a while ago so my time online is restricted to mostly my Ipod, and I hate typing on that thing.

Okay, so last time I posted was in...August.  A lot has happened since then.  My riding skills have improved exponentially (I think) I spent most of the summer and September focused on Jimmy.  I learned a lot of new things to do and he's a completely different horse now.  We're both still learning, but it's crazy how much we've both improved these past few months.  We're still working on his lope, and slowing it down and making to more consistent.  I managed to get him out in the fields a few times over the summer and he handled it like a champ.  There isn't anything I've found that can make him lose his mind.

Not much has changed with Socks.  I've applied what I've learned with Jimmy with her, so she's also gotten better.  I bought her a pretty leather halter.

I've gotten the chance to ride with a professional barrel racer a few times.  That has been beyond amazing.  I've learned so much from her!  She's helped Jimmy and I a lot.  Hopefully next summer I'll finally be ready to compete.

The most exciting news though is Artemis.  First of all, she finally hit fifteen hands!  I don't care how big she gets now, I just wanted her to hit fifteen hands.  She's getting to be massive.  I'm sure she'll get bigger, we're all thinking she'll be close to sixteen hands, if not sixteen hands.

Second, I've started riding her.  October 26th was our first ride.  Well our first official ride.  I have previously been on her once and led her around, but I count this as our first real ride because this was the first time I directed her at all.  It lasted for just over five minutes but it was long enough.  I lunged her in the round pen first to make sure she didn't have any silliness in her.  We just had a halter on her, no bridle, and I took the lead rope and tied it around to make reins.  I kept the lunge line on her and my mom came in to hold it.  Then I got on.  She could have cared less.  She mostly followed my mom around, and we worked on stopping her.  She was responding to my mom stopping, but that's okay.  She'll start to realize when I pull back and say whoa, that means stop.  The biggest thing about that ride is I actually got her moving forward off of my own command and no help from my mom.  That was big so we ended the ride there.

The second ride was after it snowed so we had it in the arena.  What was really awesome about this was when we went out into the pasture to catch her, she came galloping from across the creek over to us.  There was another horse being ridden, by a friend of mine, in the arena so there was a little more distraction.  It didn't make a difference.  Again, my mom held the lunge line but we focused more on Artemis listening to me.  This ride was a little longer, about ten minutes, and she stopped and started a few times on my command.

The third ride was again in the arena.  She was awesome.  We got her to walk away from my mom and not rely on her for support.  Again we worked on stopping and going.  She's picking it up so quickly.  She knows what my leg pressure means.

The fourth ride was last night.  Again, she was amazing.  We got her to walk around my mom in a big circle on the lunge line and worked on stopping and going.  This time, I also asked her to change directions.  She had no idea what I was asking her at first, but after a few second, she got it.  Then we stopped and started a few more times before I got off.

I cannot describe how proud of her I am.  I couldn't ask her to be any better.  She has her ears pricked forward the whole time each ride.  She's never scared.  She never reacts when I get on her (she's usually not even paying attention) and even though I'm pushing her each ride, it's not scary or frustrating to her.  When she does get confused she just stops and you can almost see the wheels turning in her mind as she tries to figure out what I'm asking her.  Everything about the rides have been calm.

She doesn't feel like a typical young horse.  A lot of young horses I've ridden feel tense, and like they're about to explode at any moment.  She feels just like Jimmy, relaxed but a little unsure.  She hasn't tried to buck, run or rear once.

Our biggest goal is to maintain keeping every ride calm.  I'm okay if she doesn't learn everything in a night.  As long as she tries and is happy, that's good enough for me.  These short rides (ten minutes long at the most) are working well so far.  They're short enough as to not overload her with new information.  They're long enough accomplish what I want, but not too long to be hard on her.  And she sure loves getting a nice long grooming after them.

Ride five will hopefully be tonight.  We'll be switching from the halter to the bitless bridle so it'll really be about seeing how she reacts to it and getting her used to the pressure.  Then she'll get a few days off.

The last exciting news is that my sister's horse, Sadie, is moving to a stable near us today!  It's not actually at the stable Socks and the others are at, my sister wanted one a little closer to home, but I'm still happy to have Sadie around.